z/Journal: Thank you for the opportunity to visit with you and talk about Honda’s mainframe and related technology.
Tom Ross: It is a pleasure, Bill.
z/Journal: How long have you been with American Honda in your present capacity?
Ross: Thirteen years.
z/Journal: One can presume that you have witnessed a good deal of change during that span of time. Can you describe a few of the major highway signs you have seen go by?
Ross: When I arrived, we were ensconced in the mainframe era. The philosophy at American Honda at the time was that everything had to be on the host and needed to be custom-coded. To the extent possible, we avoided software purchases.
Recognizing that we needed to decrease our time-to-market, we adopted a philosophy of acquiring tactical applications and developing strategic applications that provided significant competitive advantage. While the PC and client/server environments were in their infancy, these new technologies were expanding rapidly and it soon became apparent that we needed to embrace them in order to manage the changes they would impose. They were not going away.
z/Journal: So, you witnessed the dawn of desktop PCs at Honda?
Ross: (Laughs) Thirteen years ago there were very few PCs in the company. Today, we have several thousand PCs. We recognized early on that our customers would be attracted to this productivity tool. Since it wasn’t going to go away, IT needed to understand the ramifications and determine how best to manage this change. We developed standards early and managed to avoid the integration challenges. Those CIOs who did not step forward were eventually faced with the task of reigning in the non-standard proliferation of both PCs and LANs.
z/Journal: What would you say is the core of Honda’s current technology? Is it the host, the midrange, or your networks?